There’s little else that says “Hawai‘i” better than a flower LEI — THIS GARLAND OF FLOWERS that is given upon greeting guests is a fragrant symbol of aloha.
Lei can be as simple as a chain- like string of perfumed plumeria, or as intricate as a multibraided haku lei, composed of flowers, berries and leaves. Either way, it’s an honor to receive one.
In Hawai‘i, MAY DAY IS LEI DAY , when many kama‘āina (locals) wear lei. Lei displays and even competitions are a part of May Day celebrations. During other days of the year, one can find lei at LEI STANDS, FLORISTS AND FARMERS MARKETS , and even at island grocery stores.
Many hotels and resorts off er LEI- MAKING CLASSES, sometimes for free. Ask your concierge if there’s a class nearby.
Another way to see Hawai‘i’s gorgeous blooms is to explore some of the island’s botanical gardens.
Take a train tour and discover Maui’s agricultural bounty on MAUI TROPICAL PLANTATION ’s Tropical Express Tour. It’s a 45-minute loop tour around the plantation’s grounds — you’ll even get a lesson on how to husk a coconut! After the tour, walk the interior gardens, peruse the gift shops or dine at The Mill House (open 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday). The tour is $25 for adults, $12.50 for kids 3-12, and keiki (children) 2 years and under are free, seated on a parent’s lap (mauitropicalplantation.com).
Maui Nui Botanical Gardens is dedicated to the protection of Maui’s native plants and cultural heritage. The gardens offer guided and self-guided tours as well as workshops and special events throughout the year. General admission is $10; keiki (12 and under) and kūpuna (seniors) are free (mnbg.org).
KULA BOTANICAL GARDEN was established in 1968 by Warren and Helen McCord as a showcase for Warren’s landscape architecture business. Today, the garden, located on the slopes of Haleakalā is 8 acres of vibrant, cultivated foliage; each plant labeled with its name. The gardens are also home to a Jackson’s chameleon exhibit, an aviary and many nēnē geese (Hawai‘i’s state bird). Hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (It takes about an hour to walk the gardens, so arrive by 3 p.m.) Admission is $10 for adults, $3 for kids 6-12, and keiki under 6 are free (kulabotanicalgarden.com).